Have you ever made a comment and then had to reverse engineer why that popped out of your mouth? That happened to me this fall. It was a situation that made me realize that a lesson I had a hard time absorbing as a home education mom may, just may, have sunk in. Perhaps not everyone will relate to this struggle, but it is a lesson that is helpful to all home educators who might need to know that they can say 'Uncle' when it comes to curriculum choices.
Remembrance Day makes us all pause, at least for a minute, and remember those who died in service of something greater than themselves. They were those with a hope and a future. Yet they were willing to give it all up… all. Let us then pause and consider...
Who were these men, sometimes barely out of boyhood, who risked it all? Who, far too often, gave their all. Where did this courage come from? How had they been taught and what? What deep conviction would draw this level of courage to the surface and sustain them during the most difficult of times? How could they endure the loss of innocence and friends, of life or limbs?
We do not often hear of the men who are willing these days to die for their country, their beliefs or even for their families. In the time that has since passed under the bridge, unnoticed yet impactful changes have occurred while we have been swinging our legs and chattering like magpies. Deep and dangerous currents move about us and we have sat too long unaware.
What is worth dying for these days? How has the pride of our country, that used to be there, been lost? Where does morality come from that makes the value of sacrifice plain? Can that be found in a sustainable form outside of a faith in God? Where is a love to be found that makes one willing to lay down their life for a friend or, even harder, an enemy?
There is no way to avoid the truth of our struggle today...
"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" is a quotation from William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. On this topic, no matter what terminology is used, it has been a privilege to focus time and effort on some very special people in our home education family. Webster's website says that the word special stresses having a quality, character, identity... of its own.
AHEA knows that those of you who have these exceptional children in your home have faced extra challenges because of your choice and commitment to home educate, since you've felt it provides the best environment for your child. We, in turn, made a commitment to you to seek to address this issue, and we have. It has been a regular discussion point in our advocacy work with the government for over a year now.
Last fall we invited families with special needs to participate in a survey on this topic. We collaborated with another stakeholder so that we could gather data from a wider group. The resulting information from respondents confirmed what we had heard and seen. As was shared in a Political Update blog last November, "There is no funding for diagnosis and support for children with diverse learning needs under The Home Education Regulations, The Guide to Education, and the Funding Manual." This is a serious problem that affects a great many of our home education families.
- 38% had more than one child with special needs
- 11% were single parent/caregivers
- 90% were traditional, parent-directed home educators
- 77% were formerly in the public system
- 59% left within 1-3 years and another 27% left after 4-6 years
Everyone AHEA has spoken to about the topic has been very kind and cares about the needs that we are discussing. People have not been calloused, whether or not they personally have a child that may require additional support. However, and this is a big HOWEVER, caring needs to result in some very specific actions in order to be of help. Families don't want empathy - they want the kind of support that will make a real difference in their life.
History is complicated and the Alberta Distance Learning Center's (ADLC) relationship to home education, now history, is no exception. They started out simply enough, providing print resources (curriculum) to students across the province of Alberta. That simple plan grew over time into a service that provided not only print-based material to distance-learners, but online classes as well. In essence, both methods delivered teacher-directed materials with the possibility of the grades that would be recognized as fulfilling the Alberta Program of Studies, resulting in credits for an Alberta diploma.
Home educators have been told for a long time that this access fit within their home education mandate. This was very true from the sense that a parent could access many teacher resources (curriculum) for free. You actually still can find these government resources on LearnAlberta.ca. This was a boon for those parents who were looking to save money when they purchased their resources for any given year. The subtle shift of becoming a student of a teacher for credits, instead of a home education student that used the Alberta Program of Studies material and then challenged for the credits through a supervising authority, happened over time and without the implications being fully scrutinized by all the parties.
It's not too late to make home education choices this year! Each year, parents have the responsibility to notify the Minister of Education of their intent to home educate their child. Families have until September 29th to finalize their decision and qualify for funding, after which you can still become a home educator but will no longer qualify for funding in this academic year. (Note the date change from the 30th due to the new federal holiday.)
You will need to decide if you will notify that you are going to home educate in a supervised or unsupervised manner. Here are the Cole's notes on the forms you need to know about, but more information follows, so don't feel overwhelmed by the language or the process… keep reading and learning. Home education is big on parents learning as you go, just like we want our kids to!
Supervised means that you need to notify with a willing associate board or associate private (independent) school and be accepted by them. Don't leave this to the last week as they have limited space. You notify a supervising authority of your intent to home educate your child through the Home Education Notification Form – Supervised by School Authority.
You will have access to your portion of the home education grant, which is exactly $850 and claimed by submitting receipts to your supervising authority for reimbursement. The other half of the grant pays for one of their teachers to visit you twice a year to assess the learning progress of your child. You need to submit an education plan to be reviewed and approved by them, but they can assist in this.
Unsupervised means that you only need to notify the government that you will be home educating. We may refer to this as Notification Only, No Funding (NONF). There is no requirement to submit an education plan, no visits and no funding. We recommend that you still lay out a plan as recordkeeping is a protection for you in case of a need to make a change or if an inquiry arises during the year. There are two available ways to notify the government. Filling out and sending in the Home Education Notification Form – Not Supervised by School Authority or through an online form in the Provincial Approach to Student Information (PASI) accessible in myPass.
AHEA provides a ton of information on our website to help you have a full picture of what you need to understand and do. Get our ABC's booklets to get a fuller grasp of how home education works in Alberta and the work that AHEA does for you all year. Look at the Glossary of Terms that we've started to help you learn some of the home education language you are bound to come across. Let us know if you have a term you'd like defined!
We have a listing of the Associate Boards/Private (Independent) Schools, along with a helpful list of questions for you to consider when interviewing them. There is also a great list of Curriculum Providers to help you with your resource selection. Look at a sample Education Plan, noting that there are many different styles and you can ask around for other samples to look at.
Support AHEA's work as an independent voice for home education families by making a financial contribution or considering advertising with us. Stay in touch with current work and events by subscribing to our Political Update blog or our bi-monthly newsletter, the Arrow. Keep your eyes and ears open about a local presentation of AHEA's annual Fall Talks around Alberta, coming soon. Hope to see you out there!